Friday, November 8, 2013

In Memoriam: Alan Aisenberg, MD, PhD

Aisenberg in 1961

Alan Clifford Aisenberg, MD, PhD, who worked at the MGH for more than 50 years, died Oct. 27 at the age of 86. Aisenberg, who spent the majority of his career in the Center for Hematology/Oncology in the MGH Cancer Center, is remembered as a kind and caring physician who was dedicated to advancing the treatment of Hodgkin’s disease.

“Alan was a superb scientist, clinician and mentor,” says Ephraim Hochberg, MD, of Hematology/Oncology. “He was always very thoughtful and cared deeply for his patients. When I first came to the MGH 10 years ago, my office was next to his, and he served as a mentor to me. When he retired I took on some of his patients, and it was truly inspiring how they spoke about how sensitive and respectful ‘Dr. A’ was to them.”

Born in New York City in 1926, Aisenberg received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and later obtained a doctorate degree from the University of Wisconsin. Aisenberg joined the MGH in 1956 and headed the hospital’s medical oncology unit. Following his retirement in 2010, he remained an active part of the MGH community as an honorary physician.

During Aisenberg’s lengthy career, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to train at the National Institute for Medical Research in London. He also was widely regarded as an expert in the field of Hodgkin lymphoma, a subject he tackled in numerous papers and publications.

“He was dedicated to the field of lymphoma, and his expertise allowed him to publish as a solo author, which is very unusual these days,” says Kurt Isselbacher, MD, the founding director of the MGH Cancer Center, who attended medical school with Aisenberg and remained close friends with him throughout their careers. “He was extremely dedicated to the field of lymphoma, and he had a remarkable way of taking care of his patients.”

Aisenberg was predeceased by his wife of 47 years, Nadya Margulies Aisenberg. He is survived by his son, James Aisenberg and his daughter, Margaret K. Aisenberg. A memorial service is scheduled for Dec. 15 at 3 pm at the Harvard Faculty Club.

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